Dundalk head coach Stephen O’Donnell is expecting another tight affair when St Patrick’s Athletic come to Casey’s Field for one of the biggest games of the season on Friday night.
This will be the fourth and final meeting between the clubs this season. Both of the games at Richmond Park ended in a draw while Dundalk won the corresponding fixture at Casey’s Field back in May when Daniel Kelly, who will miss the remainder of the season through injury, scored the winner.
With just five matches remaining, the Lilywhites sit third in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table – a position that would ensure a place in Europe next season.
Monday night’s 4-4 draw with Shelbourne leaves Pat’s four points adrift of Dundalk and O’Donnell knows that a win over his former club would put his men in a brilliant position going into the final four games of the campaign.
“We know that a win would move us seven points clear of Pat’s and it’s got to the stage of the season now where everything is nip and tuck,” he said.
“Pat’s were missing a few through suspension on Monday night but they’ll be back for Friday’s game and they’ll be fresh. Any team that they put out is a good one.
“They have good players and we have had tight games against them this season, drawing two and winning the game here in the summer. A repeat of that would be nice.”
It could be a landmark night for one of the stars of last week’s Louth Derby win over Drogheda United. Greg Sloggett will make his 100th appearance for the club if he features against Tim Clancy’s side and O’Donnell believes the midfielder is playing the best football of his career.
“We really needed Greg to step up this season and I don’t think he has missed a game,” said the Lilywhites head coach. “What I liked about him last Friday was that he was a constant, especially when the game was in the melting pot.
“The second goal was an example of that. He had no right to win the ball but he gets out there, wins it, and from his cross in, we get a bit of fortune. That epitomised his performance for me. His work rate was exceptional and he was a bit of a tour de force when he was on the pitch.
“I think this is the best season he’s had since he came to Dundalk and he’s only going to grow and grow. It gives players confidence when they know they are going to be playing and in the team regularly and Greg can build from there.”
Joe Adams was another player who caught the eye in the win over Drogheda United and the Welsh attacker said that qualifying for Europe would represent a brilliant season at Casey’s Field.
“When we came in, there were only a few lads who knew each other. We had a lot of players come in from the UK on loan and a few from around the league.
“It took us a bit of time. In pre-season, we didn’t get the results but we got to know each other and at the start of the season, I think everyone would have taken European qualification.
“When we were up there with Shamrock Rovers a few months ago, people may have started to get ahead of themselves a little bit. We had a slight drop off but I think the fans would have taken this position.”